Update on our New Zealand Adventures

October 21, 2017

Has some of you might know, we have been living in Lake Hawea and enjoying the ski season in Wanaka.

Now that the ski season is over, my plan was to move to the West Coast and work there for a good three months. I got a trial at a company owning 3 restaurants in Franz Josef Glacier town, and was pretty happy with the opportunity to work there a while. Wyliam would stay in Lake Hawea to work on the house he has been building for the last month now, and visit me on the week ends. Which is not a small thing considering Franz is about 3 hours and a half of windy road from Hawea.

So, last week I packed my bags and filled a chilly bin of snacks to eat on the way. We took the road after having a good bye party with the kids and Ruth, our Helpx host for the jut ending Winter. I was quite sad to leave this little family. We shared many joys and emotions with them, and I truly enjoyed cooking with/for them even with Otis’s restricted diet.

On the way, we stopped at many spots to see water falls and admire the stunning vistas of the West Coast drive. In Hasst, we even stopped in a small fishing village to get our first taste of the Whitebait fish, which is considered a delicacy in New Zealand. I quite liked it, with it’s delicate taste, but Wyliam thought it was pretty blend, and so not worth the price. A kilo of them being 97$, I kind of understand him. Tummy full, we took the road again.

We arrive in Fox Glacier, the town just before Franz, just after dark and decided to stop at a camping place nearby for the night. Gillespies Campground would have been a perfect place to wake up in the morning and have a beach walk, which is located 10 meters away. Only, it was pissing outside -fancy term for raining heavily-, and even if we are “dry-able”, I had a trial to attend to.

And how did that trial went? Well, all started smoothly with a 4 hours of learning the basics and them checking my skills out. They then offered me a free meal to enjoy with my break. During that two hours break, they also showed me the accommodation options they had around town. I was suppose to comeback at 6 for the night shift, but… I decided to drop my shirt off before that and leave town as soon as humanly possible. If you only saw the accommodation they offered, you would have done the same! They were outright horrifying, dirty and so badly maintained. I would be shy to show this to anyone, or let alone let anyone paid for such dirtiness. On top of that, the restaurant kitchen reflected the cleanliness state of the accommodation by also being extremely dirty. The work alone wouldn’t be so bad if the management corps was not too harsh with employees, and could find a way to run the place with more cohesion. Therefore, I decided that I was way too good for that and I deserved way better, especially if I have to live there without my Wyliam.

As a result, we put back our seat belt in place, and left Franz without looking back.

On the way we stopped in beautiful Hokitika. Even if it was night was setting and it was still raining heavily, we found the town had a nice vibe with all its jade shops and nice boutiques. After that, it was getting dark and we decided to set camp at Goldsborought campground which is on the way to Greymouth going North.

Weka Bird Visiting

The following morning, we were visited by these beautiful Weka birds while enjoying breakfast. They were trying to catch some crumbles, but they looked so cute and were not afraid of us AT ALL. We had a long day of driving ahead of us so we told them our goodbyes, and went straight to Greymouth.

A part of an old bridge in Greymouth

Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast, and is situated straight on the coast of the Tasman Sea at the foot of the Southern Alps. As it was a quiet Sunday morning, we enjoyed the view and a little McD’s, and followed the road to Arthur’s Pass. This Pass was truly stunning with magnificent vistas on the Alps, and some pretty interesting road features such as viaduct and bridge.

Enjoying the wind on the Otira Viaduct’s lookout!

Once passed the Pass, we took the inland scenic route all the way to Geraldine where we stopped for a little leg stretching. We also visited the Barker’s Boutique, which showcase all the marvelous jams, chutneys, syrups and condiments famous nationwide. As much as the products are delicious, the shop was a bit boring. We tough it would be in the original farm were it all started, but turns out it was just in a shop with nothing special. It would have been fun to see how it’s done through a glass or have a bit of history with the products.

Next stop, Twizel. It was the second time we stopped at the Twizel local Pub -Razza Bar- for dinner and we were pretty happy to try some of the salmon ball the owner produces there. It was a delicious filling of dill, cream cheese and Manuka smoked salmon, wrapped in more smoked salmon. Slater that on crackers and you are in business! We had the traditional fish’n’chips for main, and left town.

An hour and an half of drive later, and we were finaly back home in Lake Hawea. Oh, home sweet home! As much as I was happy to leave for new adventures on the West Coast, I was pretty good to find my bed back.

After all, we are grateful to both be back here in Hawea, and plan to stay there a bit longer. Wyliam will continue building the house, and I just started working at a restaurant-bar in Wanaka. We will stay with Ruth -who is now our landlady- and enjoy the amazing place we have in Lake Hawea for longer. Also, we will be getting some more kite classes, as the Lake is known for kiting (you should see the stenght of the wind here, it’s crazy). Other than that, there is some great overnight hike we missed and plan to do as well, the only thing we need is a matching schedule to go out there.

That’s about it for now. Next week we are off to Christchurch to pick up a new van. Can’t wait to set it up to live on the road!


À plus,



By Lea Tess

Right after graduating from a Arts & Science Bachelor in 2015, I took the first plane to China with my partner. Since then, we have visited many countries, lived in Australia and, currently, in New Zealand. I am passionate about food and making memories!

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